Consumption Remains Robust during the Spring Festival Holiday in the Year of the Loong in China -- The Official Translation of “loong year” Draws Attention


On February 18, 2024, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China announced the culture and tourism market during the Spring Festival holiday in 2024. Data show that during the eight-day holiday (from February 10 to February 17), the number of trips made by domestic tourists in China reached 474 million, an increase of 34.3 percent over the same period last year and 19.0% on comparable basis over the same period in 2019. The total spending of domestic tourists hit 632.687 billion yuan, an increase of 47.3% over the same period last year and 7.7% on comparable basis over the same period in 2019. According to the travel data, the cross-regional turnover in China reached 2.311 billion from February 10 to 17 (the first eight days of the first lunar month, i.e. the Spring Festival holiday). Among them, railway passenger traffic volume reached 99.59 million, highway personnel turnover reached 2.184 billion, waterway passenger traffic volume reached 9.4 million, and civil aviation passenger traffic volume reached 18.04 million. On February 17, the cross-regional turnover of the whole society hit 308 million, an increase of about 1/3 over the same period in 2023.

The jubilant Spring Festival reveals the distinctive traditional characteristics of Chinese civilization

During the Spring Festival, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism organized 2024 Spring Festival cultural and tourism activities themed on “Joyful Chinese New Year”. According to preliminary statistics, there are about 150,000 mass cultural activities such as Village Spring Festival Gala, Operas Go into Villages, New Year Painting Activities, and Celebrating the Chinese New Year in the Library, which were attended by about 669 million people online and offline. During the Spring Festival holiday, there were 16,300 commercial performances nationwide, an increase of 52.10% over the same period last year; box office receipts reached 778 million yuan, up 80.09%; and the number of spectators reached 6.5765 million, an increase of 77.71% over the same period last year.

图片包含 室内, 华美, 桌子, 食物


The integration of culture and tourism is alive and thriving. The national-level night culture and tourism consumption cluster areas have exploded in popularity, giving people a warm, inviting feel and leading to a spending boom. During the Spring Festival, the cluster areas under the monitoring area received a cumulative total of 98.5121 million visitors at night, an increase of 58.31% over the same period last year. Chongqing Jiefangbei, Datang Everbright City in Xi’an, Guangzhou’s Beijing Road, Harbin Central Street and other cluster areas broke into the top ten business circles in China. Culture and tourism programs that benefit the people bring flourishing supply and demand. Shandong, Jiangsu, Chongqing, Yunnan, Guangxi and other provinces and regions carried out activities in succession such as the 2024 Spring Festival Culture and Tourism Consumption Month, Celebrating the Chinese New Year Through Leisure Tourism.

Today, the celebration of the Spring Festival goes beyond China, and many countries worldwide have established the Spring Festival as a legal holiday. On December 22, 2023, the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus to designate the Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New year) as a United Nations holiday. With the Spring Festival culture goes global, the concept of peace, amity and harmony will certainly play a greater role in the process of building a community with a shared future for mankind and promoting the human society to progress and move towards a better future.

Loong or Dragon? The translation of “loong” is no small matter

The year of the Loong is a year on the Chinese lunar calendar. Loong ranks fifth among the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. This year, the translation of “loong year” sparked a debate among Chinese netizens because the China’s state media used “Year of the Loong” in replacement of “Year of the Dragon” for the appellation of “loong year”. The use of “Dragon” or “Loong” has triggered heated online discussions about the most accurate translation of “loong”, the symbol of traditional Chinese culture.

屏幕截图 2024-02-20 152110

In fact, at least since the 1980s, some Chinese scholars have pointed out that dragon is not an appropriate translation of “loong”.The reason is because there is a significant difference between “loong” in Chinese culture and dragon in western context. The Chinese “loong”, as the product of agricultural civilization, is believed to be able to bless a place with a fair weather for the crops, and bears the allegorical meanings to symbolize courage, vitality and good luck and so on.

However, “dragon” in the western context, as the product of maritime civilization that often appears in the eastern Mediterranean, ancient Greece and so on, is a vicious beast that sets winds blowing and wave rolling, breathes flames and devours humans. The image of dragon was created in Western film and television works such as “Heart of the Dragon”, “Merlin” and “Game of Thrones”. If we call ourselves the “descendants of the dragon” and spread it to the outside world, we are likely to be misunderstood by people who know little about Chinese culture. Luca Nurmio, a scholar at the University of Luxembourg, said, “the image of dragon in the western context is usually a gigantic magical monster.” In ancient Greek mythology, dragons are often portrayed as guardians of treasures, symbolizing greed and destruction; in the Christian Bible, there is also the image of the giant red dragon, symbolizing Satan and the coming eschatology. In a word, the western “dragon” carries a series of negative connotations such as evil, destruction, greed and so on.

Whether in terms of appearance or symbolic meaning, the Western dragon and the Chinese “loong” are not the same creature at all, so it is undoubtedly inappropriate to translate the Chinese “loong” into “dragon”.

At the heart of the debate over whether “loong” should be translated as Dragon or Loong lies the different understanding of “loong” in Eastern and Western cultures. The translation of “Loong” in the replacement of “Dragon” is regarded as an official act of China and a boost of confidence in Chinese culture. The translation of “loong” aside, as the economic and cultural soft power of China grows stronger, Chinese culture is increasingly known to the world.

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